Southside Restaurant Recommendations with Chattanooga Foodie, Aaron Hoffman, Founder of Hoff & Pepper
We might not be food experts, but we know someone who is, and in this blog post, we’re sharing the insider foodie recommendations of Southside resident and entrepreneur, Aaron Hoffman. He is the founder of Hoff & Pepper, which is best known for its Hoff Sauce line of handmade, small batch hot sauce, which won 1st place for three years in a row at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in the Louisiana style hot sauce category.
Find out what our Chattanooga hotel learned from Aaron Hoffman!
First, thank you for creating Hoff Sauce! We are all happier people because of it. Not only is it served in lots of local restaurants, but you can also buy it and take it home right here at the Choo Choo inside Refinery423 Mercantile. Tell us a little about yourself.
When I first moved to Chattanooga in 2000, I lived on the North Shore, which was great, but in 2009, things got really exciting on the Southside, and I moved. What I love is the walkability. Everything is mixed together: restaurants, shops, residences and lots of food! Plus, it’s really close to downtown, as well.
Hoff & Pepper launched in 2015. I've always been a passionate home cook, and I’m serious about food and experimenting with recipes. My passion for hot sauce and tons of trials led me to create Hoff Sauce, and then friends and family were telling my wife and me that we needed to go into business. We started selling it at the Chattanooga Market, and now we have the product in more than 200 restaurants and retail locations across the Southeast.
Clearly, you’re a local and a pro. You’ve eaten at every restaurant on the Southside, so give us the breakdown; what are your favorites and must-have menu items?
That is actually a really tough question. There are so many local chefs and fantastic options. We are sitting in Mean Mug, so let’s start there. If you’re going for a lighter meal for breakfast or lunch, I think Mean Mug is fantastic. You can’t go wrong with one of their breakfast sandwiches.
If you’re looking for an amazing brunch, my favorite thing in the whole world is Frothy Monkey’s biscuits and gravy. I also get a side of sunny-side-up eggs and bacon, and I put them right in with the biscuits. Top it off with loads of Hoff Sauce, and obviously, you should order their Bloody Mary. Seriously, this is the best thing to eat for breakfast. Plus, they serve breakfast every day until 2 p.m., so you don’t have to wait for Sunday to order it.
Hands down, The Feed Table & Tavern has the best burger. Their own custom blend of beef makes this a great burger, and it's served on the best buns from Neidlov’s Bakery, right here on Main Street. The Feed has amazing tots, but a little-known secret is the vegetable succotash. It’s the best side in the restaurant, which is saying something because they are all good.
Now I’m really hungry! How about for a date night or more upscale experience?
My go-to options for upscale dining are Stir and Alleia. At Alleia, a little-known fact is that you can go in and sit at the bar and order the meat and cheese plate for 2, and you get fig flatbread, four kinds of meat, three different types of cheeses for only $20. Add a happy hour wine, and you’ve got an affordable and really nice evening out. If you want more food, the penne with bolognese is amazing. I’m a fan of their soybean salad, and their pork shoulder is also delicious.
Now to Stir. My favorite thing is the cold bar platter, which is great to share and includes a dozen house oysters, steamed shrimp, yellowfin tuna poke and crostini with a cocktail, horseradish and mignonette sauces. I love the wedge salad, too!
Okay, that’s a lot! Give us some other quick menu favorites at other places to consider.
Main Street Meets: It’s a seasonal menu, so I can’t say specific items, but they do all their own butchering and have amazing local, high-quality food.
Blue Fox Cheese Shop: If you’re staying at the Choo Choo, why not stay in? Call and order a cheese plate for pick-up. My wife and I love to go to a hotel and order a cheese plate and a bottle of wine and then go pick it up. Ask for the duck prosciutto, and then just let the experts put a great tray together. Run over to Imbibe, and get a bottle of wine. That’s a perfect night after a convention, training or event.
HiFi Clyde’s – Order the smoked wings, the fried shrimp po’boy and the turnip greens.
Public House: The sweet tea brined chicken is incredible. Every side is delicious, from mac & cheese to greens; they are all amazing. You can’t go wrong. One my favorites is the fried chicken livers over cheese grits with their homemade hot sauce. My recommendation is to go at lunch and get the same amazing quality but smaller portions at a good price. The other cool thing is their family style sides; order them to share for the best value.
Conga Latin Food: It is just around the corner from the Choo Choo and is so good and affordable. My favorite, little-known menu item is the chicken tortilla soup, with this deliciously seasoned broth, avocado, and tomato. It’s so fresh and fantastic.
Thanks, Aaron! We can't wait to try all these options.
Here's a little more about the hot sauce:
Hoff & Pepper offers four original hot sauces and a BBQ sauce. You can check out the entire collection online at http://www.hoffandpepper.com/ or pick-up their products right at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel at Refinery423 Mercantile, a train car boutique with curated goods and gifts. You can try it before you buy it on any item at Frothy Monkey, where you’ll find the sauces at every table.
You can find all of these restaurants on the Southside map at the front desk of our downtown Chattanooga hotel! Plus, discover dining, entertainment, and more around the Chattanooga Choo Choo!